SAN ANTONIO • The Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known in the United States as Missionhurst-CICM, an international Catholic religious missionary order of almost 900 members, celebrated 150 years of service with a eucharistic celebration of thanksgiving at St. James the Apostle Church on Dec. 2.
Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú and close to two dozen priest concelebrants gather around the altar at St. James the Apostle Church Dec. 2 at a liturgy marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Missionhurst-CICM). Jordan McMorrough | Today's Catholic
The liturgy, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú and concelebrated by close to two dozen Missionhurst priests, offered thanks to those who have journeyed with the order and supported them throughout the years with prayers, love and commitment to serve with the CICM clergy in the missions, especially Texas and Louisiana.
Homilist at the Mass was Father Charles Phukuta, CICM, provincial superior, and prayers of the faithful were recited for various intentions by Missionhurst clergy in seven languages. Father Gilbert Obin, CICM, prayed for the church in English; Brother Frederick Mizengo, CICM, prayed for world leaders in Lingala; Father Andre Kazadi, CICM, prayed for Missionhurst missionaries in French; Father Celso Tabalanza, CICM, prayed for parish lay leaders in Tagalog; Brother Sonny Aryanto, CICM, prayed for the order’s parishes in Bahasa; Father Willy Verboomen, CICM, prayed for deceased confreres in Flemish; and Father Albert Lelo, CICM, prayed for benefactors in Spanish.
Following the service a formal reception was held in the St. James Church Bosco Hall, and those gathered were joined by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, who was unable to attend events earlier due to a previous commitment.
Missionhurst-CICM was founded in 1862 at Scheut, near Brussels, Belgium, by Father Theophile Verbist. Its special goal within the church is the proclamation of the good news, wherever in the world a missionary presence is most needed, especially among the people where the Gospel is not known or lived.
All of its members leave their country of origin in the service of this exclusive missionary goal. Following Jesus, they address themselves to the poor as the privileged recipients of the kingdom of God. Religious missionaries of different races and cultures, they live and work together as brothers. “One heart and one soul,” they try to witness to the Father’s will that all men and women be brothers and sisters in Christ. They try to be a sign of solidarity among the particular churches in their universal mission.
Parishes and ministries currently served by Missionhurst-CICM in the archdiocese are, in San Antonio: San Martin de Porres, Father Gilbert Obin, CICM; Sacred Heart, Father Walter D’Heedene, CICM, and Brother Bernard Kayimbw, CICM intern; Divine Providence, Father Jean-Marie Mvumbi Phongo, CICM; St. Patrick, Father Andrew Kazadi, CICM, and Brother Frederick Mizengo, CICM intern; St, James the Apostle, Father Plutarco Belanggoy, CICM, and Father Archie M. Tacay, CICM; St. Bonaventure, Father Celso Tabalanza, CICM, and Brother Sonny Albertus Aryanto, CICM intern; CHRISTUS Santa Rosa, Father Roy Milton Quiogue, CICM hospital chaplain; and Padua Place, Father Willy Verboomen, CICM retired. Churches staffed outside of the city include St. Louis in Castroville with Father James P. Fischler, CICM; Father Romeo Olivares, CICM, serving St. Andrew in Lytle and St. John Bosco in Natalia; and St. Philip Benizi in Poteet, ministered to by Father Albert Lelo, CICM, and retired Father Felix Avau, CICM, with Brother Sonny Albertus Aryanto, CICM intern.
Beginning in 1946, Missionhurst-CICM served in various parishes and ministries throughout San Antonio. Churches served included St. Agnes, St. Stephen, St. Jude, St. Gabriel, Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Philip of Jesus, St. Mary Magdalen, St. John Berchmans, Immaculate Conception, Holy Family, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. John the Evangelist, Holy Redeemer and St. Benedict. The order’s priests also served at the Mexican American Cultural Center, in chaplaincy at the Bexar County Hospital and Mount Sacred Heart School, and as instructors at Assumption Seminary and Highlands High School.
Other parishes outside the archdiocese served by Missionhurst clergy were Mary Queen of the Universe in Comstock, Sacred Heart in Uvalde, St. Joseph in Devine, St. Andrew in Pleasanton, St. Joseph in Nixon, St. Joseph in Dilley, St. Mary in Fredericksburg, St. Louis in Castroville, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Selma, Blessed Sacrament in Poth, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pearsall, Sacred Heart in Del Rio, St. Mary in Somerset and St. James/Sacred Heart in Gonzales.
Today more than 900 priests and brothers of CICM are present in Asia: Taiwan, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan; in the vast continent of Africa: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Zambia, Senegal, Chad and South Africa; in the Americas: Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico and the United States (especially Texas and Louisiana); and in Europe: Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany.